Experience A Summer
Service Learning Opportunity Among the Cherokee
The Opportunity- A once-in-a-lifetime trip to spend time on a Cherokee Reservation and Work with Native American Peers on Important Issues
Immerse yourself in authentic Native American culture, participate in workshops to strengthen empathetic listening and respectful communication, and work collaboratively with your Native American peers to collectively achieve greater academic and personal success. You will travel to Cherokee, North Carolina to gain a greater understanding of the culture and social justice issues affecting Native Americans. The things you experience on this trip are life-changing, and we expect participants to want to contribute to a greater dialogue in the Native American fight for equality and religious freedom.
The Cherokee Summer Fellowship is open to rising high school sophomores, juniors, and seniors, as well as recent graduates of Williamson County Schools. An interview with the student is required before acceptance in the Cherokee Summer Fellowship.
When & Where
The inaugural Cherokee Summer Fellowship will take place in the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Reservation in the Great Smoky Mountains in Cherokee, North Carolina. The trip will be June 3 - 8. Our hope is that this inaugural cohort of 25 students begins an ongoing partnership with the Cherokee Youth Council of the Cherokee Preservation Foundation), the Narrative 4 Club at Swain High School in Bryson City, N.C., and the Sacred Path Club at Cherokee High School, the only high school on the Reservation.
Retrace the Trail of Tears
Your journey will begin at the Masonic Lodge in Franklin, TN where President Andrew Jackson met with the Chiefs of the Chickasaw nation to negotiate and eventually sign the 1830 Chickasaw Treaty of Franklin TN, a direct result of the passage of Jackson’s Indian Removal Act in May of 1830. This was the first Treaty for the exchange of lands in the west between the U.S. and any Native American Tribe for the expressed purpose of relocating them to Indian Territory - modern day Oklahoma.
The Trail of Tears, one of the darkest chapters in America's history, dispossessed the Cherokee Indians of their spiritual practices, religion, and native languages. Until 1978, when the American Indian Religious Freedom Act passed, Cherokee children were raised in the absence of their native culture. The Cherokee Summer Fellowship is working with a determined generation of young Cherokees to create a stronger academic and cultural future—embracing their strong Cherokee heritage and moving forward.
About the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians
The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians strives to help Cherokee youth build the confidence and skills to establish solid lives for themselves, all while highlighting and celebrating Cherokee traditions -- a daunting task in a community facing unique challenges to their culture and traditions.
We are invited as their guests to share and learn and celebrate in cultural exploration, social equity, and restorative justice... and write a great college essay.
“If you’ve come here to help me, you’re wasting your time. But if you’ve come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.”
~Australian Aboriginal Elder Lilla Watson
Through the Cherokee Summer Fellowship, Diversity Leadership Project hopes to build a sustainable partnership with the Cherokee Preservation Foundation, Swain High School, and Cherokee High School by offering both groups of young people opportunities for academic success, increased conflict resolution and nonviolent communication skills, and the resources they need to be leaders not just in college, but in life.
Through every activity, we will focus on helping build cultural awareness, self-esteem, leadership skills, and trust in their own authentic self.
In addition to working on videos and group learning activities, we will visit
Museum of the Cherokee Indian
Qualla Arts & Crafts Mutual
Oconaluftee Indian Village
Watch “Unto These Hills,” a play that retells the Trail of Tears and explains how the ancestors of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians managed to avoid the forced removal. The Village and the drama are operated by Cherokee Historical Association.
Enhance Your College Prospects -- Rising Seniors Will Complete Their College Essay
Participants will memorialize their experience on their own Diversity Leadership Project profile page with the assistance of Nashville independent filmmaker Sean Kelly, and create their own smartphone video using WeVideo.com along with an essay (rising seniors will use this as their college essay) on their experience. Topics they will explore may include diversity training, compassion, and nonviolent communication. This offers an opportunity to demonstrate to college admissions officers you are interested in participating in projects that impact a diverse population different from your own – one of the top things highly competitive schools look for in prospective students.
Authentic Immersion Experience
This service learning opportunity offers students an authentic immersion experience. Our students become a part of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Reservation student community, interacting daily with their peers. We will also visit local sites and participate in activities that encourage cultural awareness and improve social equity, in conjunction with teens in the area.
Local Subject Matter Experts will work with learning teams on the following topics:
- Native Americans in Cinema
- Native American Hip Hop
- Feminism on Reservations
- Gaming on Reservations: Blessing or Curse
- Dennis Banks, AIM, and Wounded Knee
- New Generation of Activists
- Reclaiming the Language and Culture
- Environmental Racism
Travel with us (even in your own car) and take advantage of our group room rates at Harrah's Resort and Casino. Make it a vacation for your family as well! Contact us for further information.
The trip will be lead by Randall Bedwell, President of College Path Consultants, LLC and cofounder of Diversity Leadership Project. He holds Masters degrees in History and Education and has written over a dozen books on Southern history and culture. Bedwell has taught Southern history and culture at the college level for over 25 years and brings unique insights and expertise to his role as trip organizer.
Sean Kelly (www.SeanKellyFilms.me) will provide documentary support for each student to create their own short documentary film of their experience.
Audrey Bouvier, cofounder of Diversity Leadership Project.
Catherine Cadden (not confirmed) has been an educator since 1987 finding alternatives to teaching, learning, and conflict resolution that work with the principles of nonviolence. She is a certified trainer with the Center for Nonviolent Communication bringing over 14 years of experience practicing, living and teaching Nonviolent Communication (NVC) internationally to participants of all ages. Website: https://playinthewild.org/
Other educators to be named.
The cost for this unique service learning opportunity is $2,495. This includes a dedicated charter bus trip, meals, and accommodations for seven days and six nights at the Harrah's Cherokee Casino in Cherokee, NC. We expect this to be an inclusive cost, with only meals during travel and any souvenirs not covered. The trip is limited to 25 students, so it is important to apply early. A deposit of $500 will hold your spot. All money is due by March 1, 2018.
A GoFundMe template is provided for your convenience to help offset costs.
If you are interested in joining us for this life-changing trip to Cherokee, NC for our immersive summer fellowship, fill out our application here:
Fees and Policies
- Round trip transportation from Franklin, Tennessee
- All daily meals
- All local transportation
- All group events and activities include tickets, meals, and transportation
Your $500 deposit is required within seven days of your acceptance into the Diversity Leadership Project summer program. If this deposit is not made during this time, you will lose your spot and need to reapply for this summer learning opportunity. We expect the 25 spots to fill quickly, so you will not want to let this happen! This deposit is nonrefundable.
The remaining balance of $1,995 is due no later than March 1, 2018, along with your proof of medical insurance and other required documentation.